There’s been a pile of paperwork in my room for over four months now.
A yellow spiral notebook, bills, a passport, a license, a social security card, a house deed, homeowner’s insurance, several small notebooks filled with lists and phone numbers and to-do’s and more.
All things that belonged to my Mom.
Bills that were paper-clipped together with a note written in blue pen, “September – to be paid.”
She never paid those…
Lists of the essential in her distinctive handwriting: mayo, bread and more.
In the days following her death I collected her papers because in the grief and shock fog I needed a job and my self-assigned responsibility was to pull things together. If I couldn’t pull my life together then at least I could pull together the last bits of hers.
So this pile.
There it sat in a corner of my room on an ottoman. Staring at me.
Tonight I put it away.
I looked through everything. Again. And again. Her social security card that she held once before, now in my hand. Little notebooks keep score of her skip bo games… Documents that were at one time important to her are now in my possession. She has an original of my Dad’s death certificate. Cause of death: “malignant melanoma.” Time of “onset and death 3.5 years.”
I filed her death certificate away. Right next to his.
I’m a kite without a handler.
In some ways I feel that her death has been a strange and unwanted gift.
For the whole of my life, from the time I was a
six-year-old (42-year-old) kid, I’ve felt that my responsibility was: her. Not in an overwhelming, “I hate my life” kind of way, but in a way that maybe it was unconsciously thrust upon me and in the way that I unconsciously felt comfort in being needed.
I like to take care of things. I like to help. For all of my wackiness, quirks and opinions, when the going gets tough and I’m needed, I’m calm. And I’m there.
I am ALWAYS there. You can count on me. And I like that.
It’s who I am.
And that’s the thing…
When the person who you were there for the most… dies…
…you have to figure out who you are… without them.
And that’s where I am.
Figuring it out.
I place a lot of value and respect on follow-through. On loyalty. On responsibility and empathy. Because this is what she taught me to value.
I think I have determined my self value and worth based upon the approval of my Mom. That’s not to say that I couldn’t live my life without my mom’s input or approval; I think we disagreed about most things. I didn’t seek out her approval… but I DID my damndest to make sure that SHE knew that I was ALWAYS there. That I would always fix it. That I would always help. “Mom, I got this. What do you need?”
I’d talk to doctors when I was 14.
I grocery shopped.
I handled logistics.
I picked up prescriptions.
I was her right-hand man.
And I liked it.
And now that she’s not here, I’ve come to realize that my “Fix it” docket is bare. I don’t have to fix anything. Or anyone.
…except maybe me?
She gave me a gift.
“Kylee, you go on now and worry about YOU, ok? Take some time off. I’m fine now. I’m proud of you and I love you. Job well done. Come over here, let me hug you… now go. Take care of YOU.”
That’s what I imagine she’d say to me.
So here I am, a 34-year-old grown woman whose parents are dead and for once in my life…. for the first time in my life, I don’t have a sick parent to worry about.
Cancer took him.
A car accident (shockingly) took her.
We’re not dealing with hospice or the underbelly of kidney failure as we suspected we’d be dealing with by this point, but instead here I am living **my life**.
It feels strange. So strange.
For the first time in my life, my life feels like it’s mine. There are moments when I embrace it and there are moments when it’s too much; I crave being needed by her. I crave it because I loved her and I want to help. I feel as if I NEED something to worry about. Someone to worry about.
But I’m reading again. And being creative. And writing. And exercising. And doing yoga. And planning vacations. And moving forward… and living my life.
That’s her gift to me.
She’s helping me figure out who I am.
I mean, seriously – even in death that woman is supporting me.
And I’ll get there.
—The Story of Loss. On Losing my Mom.
September 30, 2013 :: Slivers of Sunlight :: Post here.
October 6, 2013 :: That first week.Those first days :: Post here.
October 14, 2013 :: 14 days after :: Post here.
October 20, 2013 :: I found a treasure :: Post here.
November 4, 2013 :: She’s been gone for 4 weeks :: Post here.
November 13, 2013 :: I smile and drive and cry and smile and cry :: Post here.
November 17, 2013 :: Weekends aren’t easy :: Post here.
November 26, 2013 :: The holidays, the firsts :: Post here.
December 1, 2013 :: 8 weeks :: Post here.
December 10, 2013 :: The Dream :: Post here.
December 19, 2013 :: Vulnerability and Moving Forward :: Post here.
December 22, 2013 :: The reminders. They’re everywhere :: Post here.
December 29, 2013 :: 2013 :: Post here.
January 1, 2014 :: The New Year :: Post here.
January 7, 2014 :: 2 days from 4 months :: Post here.